52 years ago today, February 21, 1965, the civil rights activist and leader, Malcolm X, was murdered at 39 years of age. Three men from the Nation of Islam, Thomas Hagan, Norman Butler and Thomas Johnson, were all charged with the Malcolm’s death, yet only Hagan confessed while the other two maintained their innocence. He was killed as he began speaking during the Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem right in front of his wife and children.
Just one week prior to his assassination, attackers threw Molotov cocktails into his home in East Elmhurst, Queens and started a fire. He made a statement to the New York Daily News at the time of the attack:
“It could have been done by any one of many. I’m not surprised that it was done. It doesn’t frighten me…it doesn’t quiet me down in any way or shut me up.”
He received several death threats from the Nation of Islam, yet there are theories that there was more to his murder since it was known that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had ordered close surveillance watching Malcolm’s every move for quite some time.
As we commemorate the death of the influential leader Malcolm X, during this Black History Month, let us not forget what great strides have been taken and must continue to be made for the freedom of Black people in America.